Monday, January 19, 2015

That Which has Ceased Lurking in Properties

Yes, it’s time once again to dive into the adventures of real estate. The things we see (and smell) is amazing. The things we hear may startle us. I cannot keep these to myself. I must share them so all of you can experience the wonderful things we see, smell and hear. In fact, they could be directly out of a horror novel. But, no one reads books anymore so they can read this instead. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Just needs a quick dust and vacuum

These experiences will make you cringe. One place was disgustingly dirty and occupied. We decided to move the people to another vacant unit so we could clean and remodel the unit they were in. The one they were moving into was nearly brand new; new carpet, new doors, new paint and more. The place they were moving out of? Not so much. We went it. One of the guys opened an upper cabinet and hundreds of cockroaches scurried out of the cabinet, down his arm and into his shirt. Needless to say, it was decided this place needed to get “fogged” prior to doing any work. So, there were a handful of fogging candles that were lit and left to burn. When he returned the counters and floors were lined with cockroaches that had ceased doing “La Cucaracha”. It was pretty gross. 

Skylight? No. Just a hole. 

Are you aware of one of the early properties we bought? It was our second one. The owner was still living there when we bought the house out of tax lien foreclosure. The seller was getting some cash from the sale and needed time to remove his stuff. After many days, he finally gave up and said he was moved. The house was a small 2-bed, 1-bath home. When we went in we were shocked! There was stuff piled everywhere. The place was disgusting. Absolutely horrible. He clearly liked Spaghettios as there were empty cans by the hundreds. There were cob webs everywhere. There were huge piles of dog poop. In the bathroom, which he was still using, you could sit on the toilet and look up right to the sky. No, there wasn’t a skylight, there was a huge hole in the roof! Wow. Crazy indeed. We dove right in. Well, not literally. That would be gross. Actually, we went in with gloves, masks and a positive attitude. In the bedroom the stuff was piled over 3 feet high! Seriously, you could walk right out the window, the trash was piled that high. So, we began cleaning it up. He just kept buying those inflatable camping mattresses and putting on top of his piles of trash. We found SEVEN deflated mattresses!! After about 3 hours we uncovered a bed! Yes, a bed. It was really bad. We finished with dirty gloves, nasty face masks and an altered attitude, but nothing a long shower and a good night’s rest wouldn’t cure. 

Yes. There was a bed under this mess. 

True stories are stranger than fiction. One house we bought had a cat problem which we could call it an invasion. The smell was overwhelming. The carpet was removed. It was so bad, even the concrete was soaked with cat urine! We had to seal the concrete and about 2 feet up the walls. We were pretty sure there were still cats as we could hear something moving about in the attic. So, we hired some guys to come and get them out. I bet there were 100 ferrel cats living up there. Holy moly! The good news? I saved 15% by switching to Geico! Haha. Actually, I didn’t switch to Geico. That thought just popped in my head and now I forgot what the good news was. 

Stories of cats remind me of other houses we have purchased. If you are sensitive and disturbed by the unfortunate facts of life and death of animals due to mistreatment, I apologize in advance and you may want to skip this paragraph. Remember, I mentioned it could be out of a horror novel. In one house the cat was no longer amongst the living and was embedded into the carpet. It was gross! When Mike sent me a picture it took me a moment to realize what it was as it was covered in dust, as was the carpet, and it was camouflaged. In another house, Mike found a cat hanging from the rafter in the garage. It was enough to stop him in his tracks! People may be fascinating, but they can also be absolutely disturbing! I told you it would be bad. 

Guest Bedroom

Are you ready for more? Let me tell you about the property we bought near 7th Street and Bell. It’s a really nice community with decent townhouses. The sheriff had removed the occupants on court order. We went there the next day. Ben opened the fridge and it was nasty with rotten food and mold everywhere! He quickly shut the door. It clearly hadn't worked in months. There was no way he was cleaning it out. What did he do? Well, what any reasonable person would do. He strapped the doors shut, hauled it out and put it in storage. We rented some storage units and notified the previous owners as to where their stuff was. The previous owner could deal with it when he went through his belongings. Haha. We laugh when we relive that one. 

You should hear about the other fridges we have found! Ben found one with maggots crawling around the surface. I wonder if he has ever puked. I recall he has a weak stomach. I will have to ask him. That reminds me! Hahaha! This one is great! Mike was cleaning out a house and there was one of those chest freezers on the back patio. He opened the lid and the stench was absolutely repugnant. He slammed the lid closed and said, “I am pretty sure there is a body in there.” Naturally, he called Tater. Tater went out to the house and opened the freezer in search of a body. He poked around a bit and said it was just some meat from Fry’s floating in murky water which was nothing to get all up in arms about. I don’t know what they did with the freezer. You will have to ask Mike and Tate. 

Last Night's Dishes

Disgusted freezers, dog poo, cats, cat urine, Spaghettios cans, mice, rats, cockroaches…what more can we find? One thing Ben says is the worst is those rubber thingies that have been used and discarded. He doesn’t like dealing with those at all!

Yet, with all of these gross things that have lurked and those things still lurking, we enjoy what we do. Not all properties are this way. In fact, these are in the minority. However, they still happen. And, as long as we are working with humans and houses of humans, these things will continue to creep into our peaceful and somewhat protected lives. 

In conclusion I have a little puzzle for you. Take the first word of each of the above paragraphs (not including this one) and you will have a statement and a question. Clever. 

Everything above really happened. Well, except switching to Geico, which was just a little joke.

And, all of the pics in this blog were from one house which was occupied up until the day I took the pictures. Yes. Occupied. Are you disgusted yet?

And THAT is real estate in my corner of the globe. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

What Lurks in Vacant Properties?

What would you do if you were to walk into a vacant and boarded house and find someone in it? Oh, don’t you go around walking into boarded houses? Seriously? Man, you are missing out! You should try it. It's really fascinating. There are so many interesting things to see and experience. Did you know when they are boarded they are really dark inside? Be sure to take a flashlight. 

One time I walked up to a house and was poking around trying to see if I could get inside. All of the windows were boarded. A neighbor walked up and said, “Hi. What are you doing here?” I told him I was curious about this house since it was vacant. He said, “Oh, it's not vacant”. I looked at the house again and then back at him. “But…but, all of the windows are boarded up. And, I can see inside and part of the roof is missing.” He turned to look at me like I had grown a second head and replied, “This is a poor neighborhood. We can't afford to replace the window every time it breaks. Heck, have you seen the kids in this area? They destroy anything they can. Just take a look around, graffiti, vandalism, broken windows, damaged vee-hickles. Kids, I tell you...” And, he slowly walked away.

I am sure you have a home. Or, at least live in a place you call a home. You know, when you leave work you say, “I'm going home.” As we know, it's the place where we sleep and keep all of our stuff. We should all be thankful we have a place to call “home”. Even you teenagers out there, it's really not that bad. Trust me on this. It could be worse. I've often pondered the homeless and from where they have come. Have they chosen this life? Have they been forced into it? How many like the simpleness of homelessness? So many questions. So few answers. But, this is about real estate. Maybe someday I will write a blog about life and the "ponderings" that go with it. It could be fun. 

Back to the homeless. The ones I have met have been nice enough. On occasion, I have walked into a “vacant” house and found someone sleeping in the corner on the floor. It can be startling. However, I haven't ran into the types Ben has. Now HE has had some experiences.

A couple of years ago he was inspecting a house we bought down near 24th Street and Roosevelt. When he walked up he noticed there were people were hanging out there and milling about. He gently asked them to leave because he was going to secure the property. As he walked in he looked at one of the guys and sad, “Are the rest of the units vacant?” He was told they should be. As he walked through the units he hollered and banged on the walls to let anyone know he was coming in. It was dark. The windows were boarded. His only light was a mega-powered flashlight that made the room bright as day. You should see it! It's really bright. With a flashlight in his hand and a pistol on his hip, he walked into the back unit. Just as he turned into the back room he came face-to-face with another human. Just standing there. Ben yelled at him, “Why didn't you say anything when I banged and hollered??” The man said, “I didn't respond.” Ben said, “I noticed. Now pack your stuff and get out.” He waited outside until the man left. As he left, he kept looking back at Ben, clearly concerned as Ben had a pistol holstered on his hip. The building was secured. The homeless had to find another place to live.

It's strange. The homeless who occupy these vacant buildings have never put up a fight. I'm not saying I want them to fight. In fact, we are quite happy they don't. They just simply pack their stuff and meander down the lane to find another vacant place to call “home”. Then when that one becomes no longer viable they move on to the next. And so on. In fact, this was an interesting observation in an area known as “Sunnyslope”. It's a part of Phoenix with high crime and vacant properties and large number of homeless.

Ben and Tate were cleaning out a triplex we purchased down near 7th Avenue and Dunlap. This is a really nice area. By “nice” I mean there is a ton of opportunity with vacant properties. Sunnyslope. When they arrived there were many homeless hanging out and making themselves at home. The guys simply asked them to leave so they could clean up a little and secure the triplex. At one point they were certain there were people in the attic. They finished boarding up the windows when Ben heard, “Hey! Stop! Turn around with your hands on your head!” It was the police! They came up and pulled the gun from Ben's holster. Being Ben was only 19 at the time, he could not conceal-carry. But, he could open-carry. You know what's weird? In Arizona you can open-carry at 18 but you cannot buy bullets for the gun you carry until you are 21. Once 21, Arizona residents are allowed to conceal-carry in the state of Arizona without a permit, as long as one doesn't have a felony. On another note, later this month Ben and I are going for our conceal-carry permit. It's not required but comes with added benefits, of which I will not go into here. We are in the middle of an exciting story about houses, homeless, guns and cops!

Back to Sunnyslope. The cop pulled the gun from Ben's holster and then asked what they were doing here. Ben told them they were cleaning and securing the property as we had just purchased it.

Cop: “What's your name?”
Ben: “Ben”
Cop: “Last name?”
Ben: “Wuollet”
Cop: “Hey! Do you have any family in the department?”
Ben: “Yea. My cousin” and he gave him her name.
Cop: “Ah. You Wuollets are all over town. Grab your gun and put it back in your holster.”

The police were glad someone was finally taking care of one of the eyesores in the neighborhood. They wished them well and went to chase another call.

Our pondering was this: a bunch of homeless living in a houses they don't own, leaving trash and undesireables strewn about, damaging property and the cops get called when someone is working on a property? I guess doing repairs on properties in that neighborhood is unusual. Sunnyslope.

And THAT is real estate in my corner of the globe.